As a large majority of Saints fans are likely well aware, this year’s Saints team is currently having one of the most successful seasons in the franchise’s entire 52-year history. The Black and Gold have found themselves ranked right at or near the very top among a wide array of the many NFL Power Rankings articles that have been published recently.
And it’s with that in mind this morning, as you enjoy that first cup of coffee before heading to work, that we’ve decided to release our very own version of “Power Rankings” here at Big Easy Magazine.
We’ve listed them all, from 1 to 32, along with a few thoughts and observations as the NFL reaches the official end of Week #13 with all teams having played 12 out of their previously-scheduled 16 regular season games.
Starting with the League’s #1 team:
1. Los Angeles Rams (11-1): The Rams are in the top spot simply because they currently have the League’s best win-loss record and are the only 1-loss team left remaining. That’s in addition to the fact that they also became the first team to clinch a playoff spot and win their division following their 30-16 win over the Lions in Detroit.
Division champs 🐏
Rams are back-to-back NFC West champs for the first time since 1979. pic.twitter.com/bXn87SggUL
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 2, 2018
As a direct result of their good fortune, the Rams have moved ahead of the Saints for the #1 seed in the NFC and home-field advantage throughout the NFL Playoffs, in spite of the Saints owning the playoff tie-breaker with their head-to-head win over Los Angeles at the Superdome back in Week #9.
Up next for L.A.: a date with the Bears next Sunday night in Chicago.
2. New Orleans Saints (10-2): The Black and Gold had their League-best 10-game winning streak snapped and were simply outplayed this past Thursday night in their 13-10 loss to the Cowboys. It was a disappointing performance, given how well the Saints have played for the majority of the season, but there doesn’t seem to be any reason to unnecessarily panic over one bad game.
NFC South standings heading into Week 14 ⚜️ pic.twitter.com/4coDj7UI3L
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) December 2, 2018
And while some Saints fans predictably overreacted to the team’s less-than-stellar performance by QB Drew Brees and the Saints’ offense against a tough Dallas defense (which doesn’t get the credit that it truly deserves), this Saints team is still a force to be reckoned with — especially come playoff time.
Up next: a road trip to Tampa Bay, where they’ll look to bounce back against the Bucs.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (10-2): The Chiefs hung on to defeat their arch-rivals, the woeful Oakland Raiders yesterday in what was yet another relatively easy win for K.C., but now they’ll face the difficult task of moving on without starting #1 RB and last year’s rookie sensation Kareem Hunt. His NFL career could be over already because of the charges stemming from his highly-publicized assault incident in a Cleveland hotel back in February that he tried to cover up (but which the League apparently knew about).
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) December 3, 2018
Nevertheless, the Chiefs are still loaded with talent (including 2nd-year superstar QB Patrick Mahomes), and they should easily cruise to the #1 Playoff seed in the AFC.
Up next: a tough match-up at home in Arrowhead Stadium against the Baltimore Ravens.
4. New England Patriots (9-3): The Patriots soundly defeated the Minnesota Vikings, and even though some may find them to be ranked a bit high given that they’ve lost three games already, keep in mind that this is the same team that’s won five Super Bowls and been to eight of them in the past decade and a half.
— NFL (@NFL) December 3, 2018
New England will easily win their division (AFC East), and own a victory over the Chiefs from earlier in the season as well. That should serve as a huge boost of confidence come playoff time.
Up next for the Pats: at Miami vs. the Dolphins.
5. Houston Texans (9-3): If the Patriots are ranked too high for some, then the Texans might not be ranked high enough. Houston now has the NFL’s longest current winning streak with nine straight wins and yet they are still “flying under the radar.” Their current success is being led by the superstar QB-WR duo of DeShaun Watson and Deandre Hopkins.
.@deandrehopkins is ridiculous.
— NFL (@NFL) December 2, 2018
One thing they do have in common with the Patriots is that they too will easily win their division (AFC South) and will be a “tough out” for any one that they end up facing in the AFC Playoffs.
Next up for the Texans: at home vs. the Colts.
That was our Top 5. Now here are the “best of the rest”…
6. Los Angeles Chargers (9-3): There might not be a more underrated team in the NFL than the Chargers, who went into a tough environment last night in Pittsburgh and came away with a huge 33-30 victory for their 8th win in their last nine games.
7. Chicago Bears (8-4): The Bears were upset yesterday in overtime (30-27) by the Giants, and fell to (1-1) with former Saints back-up QB Chase Daniel filling in for starting QB Mitchell Trubisky. A showdown next Sunday night at home in the Windy City versus the Rams still looms ahead.
8. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4-1): The Steelers lost their 2nd game in a row and saw their lead in the AFC North Division slip to only one half-game over the team right behind them on this list, which is…
9. Baltimore Ravens (7-5): Defense, defense, defense. Baltimore suffocated the Falcons yesterday (Saints fans were no doubt “heartbroken” by their arch-rivals’ misfortune) and held Atlanta QB Matt Ryan to his lowest total of passing yards (131) in a game since 2011.
Gotta hit them angles. 📷 pic.twitter.com/8pK3dJZR7s
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) December 2, 2018
10. Dallas Cowboys (7-5): Don’t look now, but Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and his gang have won four straight games, just upset the League’s previously top-rated team (the Saints), and now look like the best out of all the below-average-to-lousy teams in the NFC East Division.
11. Seattle Seahawks (7-5): The Seahawks continue their surge towards an NFC Wild Card berth, and knocked Carolina out of the playoff conversation (at least for the moment) with a rout of the 49ers at San Francisco. Seattle will have a huge advantage at securing that spot since three of their last four remaining games are at home in CenturyLink Field.
12. Washington Redskins (6-5): The Redskins are barely holding on to the 6th and final playoff spot in the NFC, and will look to solidify that hold tonight when they travel to Philadelphia to face the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles on ESPN Monday Night Football.
13. Minnesota Vikings (6-5-1): The Vikings lost again yesterday as well and will face a difficult task of getting back into the NFC Playoff chase, especially given their tough remaining schedule that features games against the Seahawks next Monday night (December 10th), and the season finale vs. the Bears.
14. Carolina Panthers (6-6): The free fall for Cam Newton and company continues, as the Panthers lost their 4th consecutive game. It’s almost unbelievable when you consider that at (6-2) a few weeks ago, they were viewed as a virtual “lock” to make the NFC playoffs. With two games still left to play against the Saints, they likely won’t come anywhere close to the post-season.
That wasn’t Carolina football pic.twitter.com/U9LxN3i2bm
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) December 2, 2018
15. Denver Broncos (6-6): Don’t blink, but after a sluggish start to their season, the Broncos have ridden back into the AFC Wild Card playoff race with another late-year win and now are back to an even win-loss record (6-6) following yesterday’s dominant win over Cincinnati.
16. Indianapolis Colts (6-6): The Colts came back down to earth yesterday at Jacksonville, where they were shut out by a score of 6-0 in a game reminiscent of the great defensive battles of the 1970’s era. It was Indy’s first loss after having reeled off five straight wins after starting the year off at (1-4).
17. Philadelphia Eagles (5-6): The defending champs remain alive and well, but appear to be on the brink of playoff elimination. They’ll play a crucially important game later tonight at home against the Redskins on ESPN Monday Night Football, which ultimately could determine their eventual post-season fate.
18. Miami Dolphins (6-6): The Dolphins got back to .500 and an even record with their 21-17 win yesterday over the Buffalo Bills, but unless they can somehow manage to “run the table” in their final four games, they won’t even get a good whiff of a playoff berth.
19. Tennessee Titans (6-6): The Titans beat the Jets yesterday and like the Dolphins and Broncos, got their win-loss record back to the even mark. But barring a miracle, the Titans appear destined to miss the playoffs this time around after last year’s surprising Wild Card finish.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-7): QB Jameis Winston was very impressive once again yesterday as the Buccaneers won for a 2nd straight week and beat Carolina at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL. The Bucs will host the Saints next Sunday.
21. Cincinnati Bengals (5-7): After a very impressive start, the Bengals have finally succumbed to the slew of injuries that has absolutely crippled their chances to remain competitive. But it still might not be enough to save long-time head coach Marvin Lewis’ job after the season ends.
22. Green Bay Packers (4-7-1): The Packers’ nightmare season continued yesterday, as they lost their 3rd straight contest (on the game’s final play vs. Arizona after Green Bay kicker Mason Crosby missed a potential game-tying field goal) and then FIRED head coach Mike McCarthy once the game was over.
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) December 3, 2018
23. Cleveland Browns (4-7-1): The Browns lost yesterday, mostly due in part to rookie QB Baker Mayfield’s three interceptions in their game against Houston; but make no mistake about it: this is a scrappy young team with a bright future, just so long as they hire the right people to run the show going forward.
24. Buffalo Bills (4-8): The Bills fought valiantly yesterday and nearly pulled out a win over the Dolphins, but instead faltered down the stretch and essentially guaranteed die-hard Bills fans that they’ll be facing yet another losing season in western New York.
25. Detroit Lions (4-8): The Lions were simply no match yesterday for the Rams, who came into Detroit and, despite not playing their best game, were still able to essentially coast to the 30-16 victory that virtually assures that there will be another losing season in Motown.
26. New York Giants (4-8): Kudos to the G-Men, who despite their very disappointing season under 1st-year head coach Pat Shurmur, continue to battle each and every week and managed to upset the Bears in overtime yesterday.
27. Atlanta Falcons (4-8): As mentioned previously: Saints fans were no doubt heartbroken by their arch-rivals’ misfortune yesterday as Atlanta lost to Baltimore, and, just like fellow NFC South Division rival Carolina, lost their 4th straight game. Even worse for the Dirty Birds: they fell to last place in the division all by themselves.
The Ravens defense dominates, holds Falcons to 131 yards of total offense.
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) December 3, 2018
28. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8): The Jaguars FINALLY broke their NFL worst 7-game losing streak yesterday in their 6-0 shut out of Indianapolis, after beginning the season with a (3-1) record, having just gone all the way to the AFC Championship Game last year. They’ll have no such good fortune happen to them this year.
29. New York Jets (3-9): The Jets are simply “playing out the string” at this point, as the team will no doubt be making wholesale changes in the upcoming off-season. Those very obviously will include getting rid of heavily-criticized and embattled head coach Todd Bowles.
30. Arizona Cardinals (3-9): Much like the New York Giants mentioned above, the Cardinals deserve some kudos for not throwing in the towel on their very disappointing 2018 season. Their gritty 20-17 win over the Packers in Green Bay was their first win at legendary Lambeau Field since 1949 (almost 70 years ago).
31. San Francisco 49ers (2-10): The 49ers were beaten like a proverbial drum yesterday in their loss to the Seahawks; they are at this point the NFL’s 2nd worst team, just slightly ahead of:
32. Oakland Raiders (2-10): In his first season back in Oakland during his 2nd stint as the team’s head coach, Jon Gruden has run his Raiders team straight into the ground. He has turned them indisputably into the League’s worst team in only a few months time.
Barry Hirstius is a semi-retired journalist, who has worked as a sports editor and columnist. Barry is a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the Saints while attending games as a young boy at the old Tulane Stadium. He is the proud Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity. You can view the rest of his Saints coverage and several feature articles here.